• Goldenseal
  • Black Cohosh
  • Laddy Slipper Orchid
  • Trillium

For the benefit of the plant communities, wild animals, harvesters, farmers, consumers, manufacturers, retailers and practitioners, we offer this list of wild medicinal plants which we feel are currently most sensitive to the impact of human activities. Our intent is to assure the increasing abundance of the medicinal plants which are currently in decline due to expanding popularity and shrinking habitat and range. UpS is not asking for a moratorium on the use of these herbs. Rather, we are initiating programs designed to preserve these important wild medicinal plants.

“At Risk” List

“To Watch” List 

  • Arnica - Arnica spp.
  • Butterfly Weed - Asclepias tuberosa
  • Cascara Sagrada - Frangula purshiana (Rhamnus)
  • Chaparro - Casatela emoryi
  • Elephant Tree - Bursera microphylla
  • Gentian - Gentiana spp.
  • Goldthread - Coptis spp.
  • Kava Kava - Piper methysticum (Hawaii only)
  • Lobelia - Lobelia spp.
  • Maidenhair Fern - Adiantum pendatum
  • Mayapple - Podophyllum peltatum
  • Oregon Grape - Mahonia spp.
  • Partridge Berry - Mitchella repens
  • Pink Root - Spigelia marilandica
  • Pipsissewa - Chimaphila umbellata
  • Ramps - Allium tricoccum (recently added)
  • Spikenard - Aralia racemosa, A. californica
  • Stone Root - Collinsonia canadensis
  • Stream Orchid - Epipactis gigantea
  • Turkey Corn - Dicentra canadensis
  • White Sage - Salvia apiana
  • Wild Indigo - Baptisia tinctoria
  • Yerba Mansa - Anemopsis californica

Adopt an 'At-Risk' Healing Herb

What It Means

Adopting an ‘At-Risk’ Healing Herb is your five year commitment to sponsor your adopted herb’s page on UpS’s website. The web page will include your logo, a brief description of your organization, and any relevant information you provide. The web page will be regularly updated with current research towards the conservation and propagation of your adopted healing herb. Your adoption fee also helps fund the many programs which fulfill the mission of United Plant Savers.


Trillium Trillium, most commonly known as bethroot, has a long record of historical use. Trillium erectum has dark red flowers (sometimes also white) and a unique smell that attracts carrion flies as its pollinator. There is also rich folklore as a love potion, which makes sense for the passion it elicits in plant lovers. Wake-robin and whip-poor-will flower are also wonderful common names that came about because the trillium blooms with the return of the birds and the peak time for the sound of the whip-poor-will call into the dusk. Trilliums are an essential and iconic spring ephemeral. American Trillium Species Listed as Endangered, Threatened or Vulnerable Sessile
  • Trillium decumbens-Tennessee
  • Trillium discolor-North Carolina
  • Trillium lancifolium-Florida, Tennessee
  • Trillium parviflorum-Washington
  • Trillium recurvatum-Michigan​
  • *Trillium reliquum – US, Georgia endangered species list
  • Trillium sessile-Michigan, New York
  • Trillium viride-Illinois, Michigan
  • Trillium cernuum-Illinois, Indiana, New York, Ohio, Virginia
  • Trillium erectum-Illinois, New York, Rhode Island
  • Trillium flexipes-Maryland, New York
  • Trillium grandiflorum-Maine, New York
  • Trillium nivale-Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin
  • *Trillium persistens – US, Georgia Endangered species list
  • Trillium pusillum-Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee
  • Trillium rugelii -Tennessee
  • Trillium undulatum-Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Ohio
  • Trillium persistens and T. reliquum
* Listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. This is the most critical


Wild Yam Photo Credit Phyzome AKA Tim McCormack


Osha Photo credit: Mimi Kamp Historical Background Coming Soon UpS Recommendations: This plant has been adopted by


Eyebright Historical Background Eyebright Thinking back to my herb walk years ago in the Italian Alps, I reflect on he fact that people had collected wild plants in those ancient collecting grounds for centuries, doing so in a conscientious way that ensured the plants’ continued abundance. Through careful pruning of the aerial parts of existing plants, the replanting of remaining rootlets and crowns, and the scattering of seeds, the herbs that provided livelihood and medicine for centuries continued to thrive. With the popularity and ever increasing demand for eyebright, however, there is now concern that continued harvesting could lead to the plants’ eventual depletion. It is of utmost importance that any collecting of wild medicinal plants be done with reverence for the plants and in a knowledgeable, respectful, and sustainable manner. Only this way can we ensure that the plants and the medicinal gifts we receive from them will continue to be there for generations and centuries to come. Propagation and cultivationAlthough eyebright self-propagates by seeds and grows in a variety of climatic conditions, it is by nature a “wild plant,” difficult to cultivate in the garden. In fact, I know of no one who has succeeded at doing so. The reason is


Black CohoshHistorical Background
Black cohosh was one of the many important and distinctive remedies that the pioneers learned about from the Native Americans. Members of all the important medical schools of the nineteenth century, including the allopaths, homeopaths, Eclectics, and physio-medicalists, used it. It has proven to be a widely useful medicine. It not only acts on important and common physical problems but also has properties that run in a deep psychological vein. Today it is still widely used, both by the more scientific phytotherapists and the traditional community of herbalists drawing on expanded lore. Black cohosh can easily be grown from seeds. It can also be propagated by breaking up the crown, but this is more tedious and does not yield as many plants. The seeds need to be stratified in a sequence of warm temperature, followed by cold for several months, and then warm again. The reason for this is to mimic the conditions of the central temperate region, where black cohosh grows wild, ripening its seeds in midsummer. It can be sown in the ground right then and will sprout the following spring.Farther north it does not ripen its seeds until August. This seems to be a


Slippery Elm Slippery elm is truly one of the most versatile plants in the herbal kingdom. An important “tree of plenty”, it is renowned for its beauty, medicine, and food; it seems to help everything it touches. Its herbal actions are demulcent, expectorant, emollient, diuretic, and nutritive in nature. Slippery elm has a long history of use as an herbal medicine; it is still listed as an official drug in the United States Pharmacopoeia and is also sanctioned as an over-the –counter drug. It is one of nature’s best demulcents, its effectiveness proven through eons of use. It contains mucilage cells, starch, tannin and calcium oxalate. These constituents penetrate and cover exposed irritated surfaces, aiding in the healing process. Having an emollient action, it tends to soften and relax inflamed tissues and is specific for inflamed conditions of mucous membranes of the bowels, stomach, throat, and kidney. Propagation and CultivationGiven the current status of the elm population in general, along with the incredible usefulness of slippery elm, it is imperative that we begin planting this tree as a part of our sustainable farm and garden practices, much as we plant comfrey and Jerusalem artichokes. Though slippery elm is still susceptible to Dutch


Lobelia (Lobelia inflata)By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons Historical Background Lobelia is a beautiful name for a beautiful pant with a notorious reputation and a rich historical past. There are more than 350 species of lobelia found worldwide. As a beautiful native plant, lobelia has work to do outside the realm of human herbal medicine. Its teachings are many and varied, and we have probably only begun to understand its role in healing. Like so many of the plants demonized by colonizing cultures, lobelia embodies a harmony of light and dark. With proper attention to the details of ethical wildcrafting, lobelia will be able to thrive in the margins of our developed lands and in the few remaining wild spaces we leave. We of United Plant Savers heartfully hope that wild lobelia will continue to flourish and fascinate the generations to come. My grower contacts have primarily cultivated Lobelia inflata in the Pacific North west, where summers are typically warm and dry. Lobelia fares well in a variety of soil conditions and can thrive even in part shade in a loamy, rich soil. Seeds may be sown in late fall, the way the plant does


Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)Photo Credit: By Spencer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis L.) Adapted from: Greenfield, J. Davis, J.M. and K. Brayman, 2006. NC State Horticultural Leaflets: Bloodroot. Department of Horticultural Science. College of Agriculture & Life Sciences. North Carolina State University. Available online: NC State Horticultural Leaflets Botanical Information Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis L., is a member of the Papaveraceae family. It is a native spring wildflower that grows in rich woodlands of North America from Nova Scotia to Florida and west to Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Manitoba. It can grow in full sun, but is more often found in semi-shaded, light-wooded areas with moist, acidic soil. A perennial that grows up to ten inches tall, the plant has a single, basal leaf that can be as wide as eight inches. The flower is located on a separate stalk and is white with a yellow center. Bloodroot is one of the first wildflowers to bloom beginning in late winter and continuing into early spring. The "root", consisting of a thickened rhizome covered with fibrous roots, is known for its reddish-orange color.. . Bioactive ComponentsThe main bioactive components of bloodroot are alkaloids, primarily sanguinarine. Others include


Historical Background Echinacea purpurea has been cultivated as a hardy, showy, perennial garden ornamental since the early 1700’s, in both North America and Europe. It is easily grown from seeds, is drought tolerant, will grow in full sun or partial shade, and thrives on neglect. E. pallida is commonly planted in prairie restoration projects, meadow lawn plantings, and sometimes in herb gardens. E. angustifolia is the most difficult echinacea species to grow. Commercial growers of Echinacea purpurea often direct-sow seeds to a depth of about 1/4 inch, keeping the soil moist until emergence (generally in about two weeks). If the E. purpurea seeds are from a wild source (not cultivated material), a period of cold, moist stratification at 43 degrees for thirty days is recommended. Echinacea seeds are embryo dormant, and a period of cold, moist stratification greatly increases the speed and frequency of germination. Seeds can be placed in a mix of sand and peat, set out doors (covered with a mesh screen to keep critters out), and left over the winter. For E. pallida seeds thirty to sixty days of stratification is sufficient. For E. angustifolia seeds sixty to ninety days of cold, moist stratification is recommended. A


Lady Slipper OrchidHistorical Background In 1856 Thoreau wrote, “Everywhere now in dry pitch pine woods stands the red lady’s slipper over the red pine leaves on the forest floor, rejoicing in June. Behold their rich striped red, their drooping sack.” This is a plant that elicits poetry and stories from all who have good fortune to come across it. Even modern technical descriptions of lady’s slipper to be common, but all should respect the corners of the castle where it lives. A single lady’s slipper seedpod will contain between ten and twenty thousand minute seeds that have been likened to a “mote of dust on the wind.” Adapted for wind dispersal, they are remarkably light, and unlike most other seeds, they do not contain their own endosperm or food reserve. Thus, in order to survive, the seedling must find a dependable source of nourishment during this fragile stage of development. This is where magic and science merge. An odd symbiotic relationship between the lady’s slipper and potentially lethal (to plants, anyway) pathogenic fungi has developed over eons of time In order for the seed to survive, it forms a small corm that waits in dormancy until “invaded” by certain symbiotic soil


GoldensealThis plant sponsored by Herb Pharm - http://www.herb-pharm.com/ Historical Background Goldenseal is the rhizome and rootlets of Hydrastis canadensis. In commerce the herb typically ranks as one of the most widely used herbs in the North American market and is second in only to wild American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) in commercial importance in the native North American medicinal plant trade. Its sales are typically highest in natural food store outlets, rather than in mass-market retail stores. Nevertheless, goldenseal products are found consistently ranked among the top dozen herbs sold in both classes of trade. In 1997 goldenseal sales ranked fourth in the natural food trade, at 6 percent of total herb sales; 1998 sales were ranked seventh at 4 percent of total sales, the drop being due in part to the rise of St-Johns-wort (Hypericum perforatum). In mainstream stores goldenseal sales in 1998 were bundled with echinacea (as both individual and combination products), ranking fifth at $69.7 million total, with the majority of this figure presumably being due to the heightened popularity of echinacea. According to some accounts, demand for goldenseal has been increasing in recent years, with collections from the wild growing nearly 600 percent from


American Ginseng  American Ginseng is an amazing American medicinal plant of great value to rural communities, as a sustainable non-timber resource for both landowners and the National Forest Service, and if managed and protected, ginseng can be a sustainable source of wild medicine for future generations. United Plant Savers acknowledges the incredible historic role that ginseng has played in the American economy and lives of rural Appalachian culture. Those that have grown up in the culture of harvesting medicinal plants are also those that have planted the seeds of ginseng and replenished the woods. United Plant Savers encourages the stewardship of medicinal plants that has been passed down from generation to generation. What can you do to help? 1) Become a member of United Plant Savers and stay informed on issues related to conservation of medicinal plants. Join UpS here. 2) Grow ginseng! Perhaps you have wild ginseng on your land, consider joining our Botanical Sanctuary Network for the conservation of native medicinal plants. The future viability of wild American ginseng is at-risk due to several factors:
    • Increased deer populations who forage on herbaceous plants
    • The fact that ginseng is slow growing, and reproduces only by seed

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